Category Archives: Book Reviews

My Son’s Book Review of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


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My excitement at getting this book is now solidified by my son’s soulful summary

Born a Crime Review by Alain Michel

Please click on the link it is to a pdf document

He wrote that review on the 6th of June which was one of those days for me, as well as the poem I shared here previously too. That date now means so much more to me, and am seriously and sincerely so grateful.

Thank you all for reading,  he will read your comments on his review and see the likes too – He did read it and is currently reading the richest man in babylon and you can imagine how happy I am he is gradually discovering the wonders of books and poems right?

Book Review: Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


Birth of a new brain cover

 

Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: I don’t make that association however, and memoirs like Dyane’s make a pale of those who think a mentally ill is a ‘no good’! 

May is mental health awareness month and I have the honour of furthering my mental health awareness month with a book review. Dyane’s epic memoir of one of the ‘not so known’ mental illnesses is worth its weight in gold especially at this time when even Royalty is stepping up advocacy on mental health awareness.

Some stuffs I get from Dyane’s epic memoir:

We don’t care about those ‘lunatics’ because we are not them and no we can’t become them. Sometimes, and as in Dyane’s case, we so wish our sick ones well, but we don’t try to learn and understand what is going on. We don’t even know what or how to ask them any questions. It gets to a point where we look forward to either having them removed from our ‘normal’ existence, or forward to leaving them and going far away – be it for studies, work or just a fresh start. One thing I learnt from this memoir is that close or far, we can be so impacted by mental illness of a close one. Paradoxically, Dyane starts having troubling ‘mental issues’ after she’s left home and is on her own, although she had felt for so long before then that something ‘weird’ was going on.

And yet:

A lot of good things in my opinion happen to Dyane in between the time she leaves college and when her second child is born – the birth which sparks her postpartum bipolar disorder. She takes on different challenging jobs and meets a vast array of people most especially her ever supporting husband.

I am so interested to know what keeps her husband staying with her mindful of her seemingly ‘unappeasable’ mental illness and mental health altogether. Maybe she’ll write a second memoir about this. He from much indication in her memoir, is a care giver par excellence both to her and to the kids, juggling these all with his ever demanding job. People like her husband are to be celebrated because many with a mental illness are sooner or later abandoned even by their families and left at their own guise.

It is once more interesting to read in this memoir about the treatment mentally ill patients seem to attract. There are basically two types of treatment. You are either treated as a human being with an illness like every other (very rare), or most often, you treated with such stigma and near shunning altogether. Dyane even while very sick, can tell and appreciate when she is treated with empathy, and even sympathy. She also narrates the few times she’s treated like ‘one of them lunatics’. When you sometimes leave the hospital worse off than you get there; when you develop post hospitalizations trauma disorders which is another mental illness on its own.

All is not lost, after trying several different medications, nearly becoming a guinea pig of sorts; after trying to go off cold turkey not once but twice; after silently challenging one of her doctor’s sarcasm about alternative treatments; Dyane has come to find a balance between all of them. Even ECT wasn’t left out, she desperately needed a new brain – she’s courageously brought forth one and trying her best to nurture same.

My Appreciation:

Her narration is not only so funny at some points you wonder where she found some words and different styles she uses (oh yes she has a B.A. in English and American
Literature); her memoir also has helpful links and annexes. Her extensive biography below beats the ‘stigmatized notion of mentally ill as incompetent and losers’! I mean what dedication starting all over and over again, entering a contest hundreds of times, taking on difficult exams and the list goes on.

As some other advanced reviewers have already said, her memoir is a big bonus to the mental health community, – a community I dare advocate should concern all of ‘us’ because all the ‘thems’ we see today were once ‘us’ before. There is really no point for stigma which to me shows insecurity and fear of the unknown.

I without any reservation, recommend this memoir to all and sundry. I give it a 5/5 and can’t wait to receive my autographed copy come October. I need to have that physical copy on my shelf period!!!

About Dyane Leshin-Harwood

Dyane Harwood

Dyane Harwood is the author of the memoir “Birth of a New Brain – Healing
from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” (Post Hill Press, October 10, 2017) with
a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. She holds a B.A. in English and American
Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance
writer for over two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors
including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK.


Dyane had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending a writing weekend
conference taught by her favorite author, the late Madeleine L’Engle,
author of “A Wrinkle in Time.”  Dyane has written for The Huffington Post,
The Mighty, Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Progress, Anchor
Magazine, Fit Magazine, The International Society for Bipolar Disorders,
The International Bipolar Foundation, and The Stigma Fighters Anthology.
After founding a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(DBSA), she facilitated free support groups for mothers with mood
disorders for nine years.


Dyane lives in Ben Lomond, California with her husband Craig, their
daughters Avonlea and Marilla and their collie Lucy who serves as a
writing muse and sits on Dyane foot when she writes.

Dyane’s website: www.dyaneharwood.com
She blogs every Friday at Birth of a New Brain: 
www.proudlybipolarwordpress.
Birth of a New Brain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain

You can find Dyane tweeting away on Twitter: @DyaneHarwood

Bibliotherapeutic: all the way from maralago


What better gift on another stressful day? My first son has malaria and the doctor was near appalling.

I now have to find time to do that book justice. I pray for traffic jams so I can read in the cab for hours lol

I mean with such an autograph… What can disturb your evening?

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If you want to find out why that sate is significant, get the epic book: am at 50% already I don’t know how am doing the reading lol

Update (26.04.17/ 3.05 pm)

  1. I just finished the super epic memoir; I have never laughed as hard when reading a memoir;
  2. As a single mother, Trevor’s tribute to his mother goes straight to my soul;
  3. I don’t know if I ‘ll get to doing a review, I think the book already has thousands of them on the amazon;
  4. My Son is fine and did attend some school today

 

A non bipolar related recommendation for Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


the one and only Lucy
The one and only Miss Lucy

Hello world, take it from Lucy and I

I want to without much ado, give you at least 7 reasons why you should pre order or look out for the release of Darling Dyane’s epic memoir. That is, other than the fact that it made me have a wonderful day out, eat some ice cream with the boys at our dear icecream grandma’s, and laugh oh so much:

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

Birth of a New Brain is available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!

Ok: Let’s get going:

  1. If you want to know how to act well enough to be selected for a role as kid: get the memoir;
  2. If you want to know how many times you should enter for a contest to win a sports car before giving up: get the memoir;
  3. If you never knew a dog could get a c-section and suffer a stroke and still be a ring bearer at a wedding: get the memoir;
  4. If you want to know how to avoid your broken heart from being quickly mended: get the memoir;
  5. If you want to know how to import a boyfriend and soon regret it enough to cameloen the colours of envy for months: get the memoir;
  6. If you want to know the best way to bribe a potential landlord (not with sex I emphasize); get the memoir;
  7. If you want to know how to prepare for and pass your massage therapist exams (not what you are thinking): get the memoir

And the biggest bonus

  • If you want to know how you can ‘flimpsily’ say  ‘it’s not my type” and to have to treasure that for life : get the memoir
  • and oh another medium bonus: I used to call my vip buddies my ‘PP’ meaning ‘Personal Person’ – but if you want to know what it truly stands for: get the memoir

I hope I haven’t given any spoilers away – men I laughed more than I should have when reading that memoir. Dyane was generous in making a large chunk of it about life and all before getting serious about the not funny subject matter of Postpartum Bipolar Disorder…

About Dyane Leshin-Harwood 

lady D

Dyane Harwood is the author of the memoir “Birth of a New Brain – Healing
from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” (Post Hill Press, October 10, 2017) with
a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. She holds a B.A. in English and American
Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance
writer for over two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors
including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK.

Dyane lives in Ben Lomond, California with her husband Craig, their
daughters Avonlea and Marilla and their collie Lucy who serves as a
writing muse and sits on Dyane foot when she writes.

Dyane’s website: www.dyaneharwood.com
She blogs every Friday at Birth of a New Brain: 
www.proudlybipolarwordpress.
Birth of a New Brain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain

You can find Dyane tweeting away on Twitter: @DyaneHarwood

Have you ever had to go out of town just to savour a book? Introducing Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


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My kindle and I, my kindle & I… oh what a wonderful treasure…

Dear world, last week while on a brief blogging break, I was excited to receive the ARC (Advanced review copy) of my lady Dyane’s forthcoming memoir. I got it in my email on Wednesday night, and tried to start reading it on Thursday. With the boys ha, I can’t find the time to read at home so I read on the go as in when stuck in traffic. But when the book you browse promises to be one so full and pregnant with ‘stuff’, men you have to go find some cool place to savour that book. I was fortunate to have a trip planned for the next day although I wasn’t so decided yet. Well, that book sealed it for me. Whatever thing I had planned to do during that trip was going to take second stage because I had to savour that book and finish it before or else…

I am going to be very honest with you, not because I know Dyane online, but because I laughed so much while reading that book – I just want to recommend it to you before I even tell you more. I am going to do three posts on that epic memoir just to tell you how much it got into me…

In this first post, I’ll share the pictures of my reading cocoon and the beauty of the day even when I got back to the home I was hosted in with the boys. In my next post on this memoir, I will share the reasons (not related to the main topic of the memoir) which make me advice you to get the memoir. The third post on this memoir will be focused on my review of the main topic of the memoir which is “mental illness” – “Postpartum Bipolar disorder” in Dyane’s case. Thank you already so much Dyane for loving and trusting me enough to send me an ARC of your epic memoir. My hats off to you after all you’ve been through and still go through, to find it in you to finally write this memoir and in that style. Reading truly takes me roaming & roving

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales arriving this summer!

And the boys also got a blast at our host, a highschool friend of mum’s whose husband and her are befittingly called Papa and Mami by my siblings and I. The boys call Mami, Icecream Grandma because she has a big icecream venture. They negotiate to visit there at least 3 times a year. Look at the pictures:

Ain’t all that wonderful? It was a well deserved break for me afterall, Dyane’s epic memoir topped it all for me… I am so grateful.

Wishing us all a happy and cozy week ahead

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Book Review: Bipolar 1 Disorder : How to Survive and Thrive by Molly Mchugh


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A mental illness definitely strips a person of so much; yet there is hope!!!

Introduction

I wish to begin my candid review of this epic memoir by expressing my gratitude to Molly for having stuck through with writing this memoir. She kept this dream alive for 20 years and I find this generous. Generous also because of all she shares in there – from a very personal and equally professional perspective. Here is someone who fell sick; lost her mind on some occasions; got diagnosed with one of those dreaded labels; witnessed the system’s ‘stagnancy approach to mental health’ from both sides (as a care worker and as a mental health consumer’, and was ‘kindly’ harassed into withdrawing from medical studies with no one held accountable. But, the deal for me is reading on to find out how she survived and is now thriving as best as she can. I have learnt so much not only from reading Molly’s memoir, but also from interacting with her online.

The personal narration

Brought up a catholic, Molly probably knows the dogma of retribution being a direct consequence of our sins or ‘short comings’. It is easier to blame a mental illness on the person suffering same, or their family and upbringing. In this respect, a lot of prayers are said by the family of such a person in total faith and hoping for a miracle. This is some of Molly’s journey although this approach doesn’t work out well and Molly goes from one misadventure to the next. Her personal narration equally covers her ‘merry go round’ with the search for ‘balancing the chemistry’ in her brain through some psychotropic drugs with each having its of pros and huge cons. Physical ailments join in the mix or maybe were even there all along and just can’t take the toxic chemical assail any more without crying foul. Molly is lucky to find a doctor or two who is patient and thoughtful enough to go to the bottom of her physical predicaments to prescribe some alternative treatments. These alternative treatments, including those Molly researched by herself and even natural ones like the sun and thyroid supplement, are all part of the big wrap which enable Molly to survive her Bipolar 1 diagnosis and eventually thrive.

The Scientific narration

Molly’s memoir is not only about her personal journey, it is also about a lot of scientific information and material the average mental health patient and yes even some doctor may be unaware of. Molly shares insights into her research both off and online in her quest to better understand what the ‘heck’ is going on in her brain and life. She also makes a strong and corroborated case for the need for both the scientific and mental health community to be and stay informed of the evolution of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology mindful of the giant pharmaceutical industry. Molly seems to point out something I had baffled at when I visited the US – Mental illness seems to be all about pills regardless of how bleak statistics are turning in. Fortunately, there are voices of hope out there, although they may be threatened a drown – they are there.

The debilitating narration

I refrained from including this under Molly’s personal narration because it seems to be the trend for many suffering from a mental illness. That mental before the big word illness does so much disservice to the person, their family and even community as a whole – perplexedly unlike with physical illness. Once you get a mental illness diagnosis be it of bipolar 1; 2; Schizophrenia; borderline… you name them, a lot is stripped off you. If you are lucky to be treated as a human being any more, you still come to realize you belong to the category next to guinea pigs or pets for whom either despise or exaggerated pity is the new kindness. There is so much stigma and the community is hyped with fear of this mental ‘nuts’ roaming the streets instead of being locked up for good. You learn very quickly to not mention the word mental again if not relationships will keep being jeopardized.

My appreciation

This is one more of those books I wish I had read a few years ago because it would have helped me and a sibling. The book is very easy to read because of the simple English used and even the anecdotes to fruits in the scientific narratives. Molly’s sense of humour probably helps her survive and thrive, but it will sure keep the reader interested in reading till the end. Although a mental illness strips a patient of so much, it is possible to face the ‘mental beast’ head on as Molly has done. Indeed, she has not only brought into the world a healthy and full of energy young man now in his young adulthood, but she has been able to go back to finish college and start a freelance career in communication. She is over ten years from her last hospitalization and is ageing gracefully. Who says there is no hope once you get a mental illness diagnosis? Read on, I whole heartedly recommend this memoir and give it a 5/5.

About Molly

molly-and-son

Molly is much more about bipolar than I could do her justice. Here is a glimpse in her own words; check out her website for your freelance writer jobs:

I’m Molly, your go-to gal to get your online writing project done with content that informs, is well-researched, SEO optimized and engages your audience. I will manage your writing projects while you focus on more important things such as running your business. Let me know what type of content you need for what format (blog, website, newsletter) and I will get it done.

You can get detailed information about each of my specialized services here: Blogging, E-books, Website Content, White Papers.

Book Review: Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant


peace-from-broken-pieces

Hello world, My Biological clock is ticking (turn 38 next week by Grace); and peace is my number one top priority at all times now. I admit to having several broken pieces in my life – heck still do so much and they sometimes just poke up and make me bawl my eyes out all over again. I was thus very excited to pick up this other soulful memoir by Iyanla Vanzant one of my all time favorite – No nonsense authors. I mean, I cried again when I read one of her other power books titled Yesterday I Cried – Here, you can find my review of that one. I have had it for almost two years now but I guess it wasn’t time for a review. I even mentioned the book in my own personal journey to uncovering the source of my peace.

When I look at my notes from the book, I can share some of the most poignant I made:

  1. …I didn’t know anything about rebound relationships. I didn’t know that it takes a respectable amount of time for one person to get over another person and come to a place of completion… (Neither did I and it’s barely 3 months I finally knew and got there);
  2. …One powerful lesson I learned from him was that just because a man is a good man, it does not mean that he knows how to be a good partner ( my comment on that note says it all: woah, similar to what l wrote about mine);
  3. When two broken people bring their broken pieces together, chances are they will never become a whole anything. (very high chances I think too);
  4. Unworthiness always puts you in debt to anyone and everyone who shows you the slightest degree of attention or love or energy. Eventually, in this form of bankrupt relationship, your benefactors will demand or expect more than you are able or willing to give. This is the precise moment they will choose to call in the loan; (I can relate 99.99%);
  5. When you do not believe that who you are and what you do is good enough, that message will contaminate everything you do. When doubt is present in your consciousness it indicates a much more profound problem. It is a story that we tell ourselves about who we are and what we do and do not deserve in life. Your personal lie is a function of all of the broken pieces of your puzzle—all of the elements of your history, all of your experiences, all that you have been taught about yourself merging with all that you have made up about yourself. 

And now three lessons she shared which helped her find peace amidst all those broken pieces

  1. Until and unless you know that you are enough just the way you are, you will always be driven to look for more. Knowing that you are enough is a function of consciousness. Your enough-ness develops in direct proportion to the relationship you have with your true identity. Until you wholeheartedly believe in your own worth, in spite your of accomplishments and possessions, there will be a void in your Spirit. I had more than a void. (here is my comment: this is what l wanted);
  2. When you are starting your life over, with a new sense of self, who you once were is going to challenge you. Who you once were is going to dangle old carrots, old wounds and issues, in front of your face. When that happens, you will be tempted to revert to old feelings, old patterns of thought, and old patterns of behavior. When, however, you have made up your mind that the old you is dead and buried, when you have embraced a certain level of clarity about who you are and are not, as well as who you are choosing to be, you have a different response;
  3. “When you can tell the story and it doesn’t bring up any pain, you know it is healed.” (I got there Amen)

This really is the best way I can review this book – I broke down again so sourly two days ago, and bawled myself to instant sleep just where I was – I got up and with so much unconditional love and support – I decided to stick by the new response to ME and my Life. A big gratitude among others to Iyanla Vanzant and memoirs of hers like this one. I can’t rate this book any less than a 5/5: written in such down to earth english – so personal – so fine to read without a break.

About the Author

iyanla-vanzant

There isn’t anything I can say about Iyanla which isn’t everywhere and I mean including on O. here is a snipet from her website:

“What I have learned from all of the difficulties in my own life is that human beings have very thick skin. I call that skin, spirit, our Highest Most Powerful self. Spirit is the key to everything we desire. It is our weather-proofing, our Teflon, our line of credit that assures if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one day; there will be a miraculous payoff.”

Visit her website and there you’ll find all the links you need to that great woman described as: ” one who embodies a no-nonsense approach in her message and teaching style. Outspoken, fiery, transparent, truthful, and sage-like”.

Book Presentation: Sassy, Single, and Satisfied: Secrets to Loving the Life You’re Living by MMH


sss-by-mmh


For All the Single Ladies in the House

My Story with this epic book

When I first came across this book by Michelle Mc-Kinney Hammond, whom I really just so love, I really contemplated whether I should buy it, read it, and review or share my reading /enlightenment journey whenever I was done. I knew even then, that this book wasn’t going to leave me the same although I couldn’t for sure figure out what this book was going to do to me. I could only hope that whenever I did get to read it, I should want to read it a second and third time again. I have had it for 12 months, and I have read it 3 times, and I now feel ready to share my reading/enlightenment journey.

After my third read, I realized I had never looked up the word sassy before:

sassy: ˈsasi/: adjective informal lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.

Single we know or I do, and satisfied I think I do too. Honestly, it is the sassy I didn’t know what to really make of in relation to ME. There is a me and there is a ME and after my divorce in 2011 I can’t even tell which was living inside and outside my body. Today, over 5 years later, thanks in a very large part to the hundreds of books I have read in the past 3 years, from great authors like Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vanzart, MMH… and up coming ones like my friend June Whittle and several fellow bloggers, the inspirational and motivational messages listened reverently to from Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama … I can say I am well on the scale of ME living inside and outside of my body: Closest I feel to being Sassy; Single and Satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, one day I could get back into a relationship, MMH is actually in a fabulous one now – but I guess the big deal is in embracing and loving your singlehood to the point of being sassy and satisfied enough with you and life as is. I think you contribute best to a relationship you go into being whole inside out than otherwise!

What is in this book  Disclaimer: I don’t know what happened to the formatting, just bear with me am no techy

This book is about Love! Wow wow wow… MMH takes us through her personal journey of finding, keeping and sharing love. With who? First with herself; jointly with God; and then with the world; and then with whoever came next by God’s Grace. In this book, no one came next but that was ok for then. The most important she shares in this book is her journey to loving the marvellous mess she had made of herself, and of realising and accepting and surrendering it all to God who in his Awesome Almightiness revealed to her that she had every right to be Sassy; Single and Satisfied until her next chapter as He would will.

MMH uses her knowledge of the bible and much more, to teach us and share with us much of what she has learnt and now knows about Love – and Men – and Lovingly Living with Yourself all through the process of Life. Maybe I am gradually becoming a very intense person or am just being so really ME and sharing same in all vulnerability – but I have no regrets whatsoever.

This is another of those books I can’t do any justice to with any rating or review: has hit me as hard as the Four Agreement and Taking The Mask Off. Before I got married, I never really contemplated what being single meant and how I felt about it. I actually lived that stage of my life out waiting for the next boy friend/man/relationship … a very tiny and near insignificant me to my eyes and mind lived inside my body and I even at one point thought of discarding that body completely from the face of this earth. I can never forget that. This explains my total Gratitude to all who have helped me along my journey to ME. I hope this book does something to anyone who picks it up especially the single women in the house.

About the Author

ssh

Michelle McKinney Hammond is the author of over 30 books on living, loving, and overcoming. She is the President and Founder of HeartWing Ministries, which hosts annual DIVA Weekend Getaway Conferences. As a relationship and empowerment coach, internationally known speaker, singer and television co-host, it is Michelle’s mission and passion to help women and men to first be intimately connected to God and then empowered to become their personal best in order to experience victory in every area of their lives.


Michelle’s ministry began many years ago when she suffered a devastating leg injury from being hit by a car. The accident was a spiritual turning point, a wake up call to embrace her purpose and fulfill her destiny. Those bedridden months gave her time to complete her first bestselling book, “What to Do Until Love Finds You.”
Michelle eventually left behind her career as an advertising art director/writer/producer for clients such as Coca Cola USA, McDonald’s Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and others, to speak to audiences, encouraging people to fulfill their God-given purpose in life.

Book Review: Nothing like Normal; Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia by MGW


nothing-like-normal

What is NORMAL Anway?

This was the question I was ‘foolishly’ or maybe ‘highly unrealistically’ expecting to be answered in this all too human and yet piercing memoir.

I began reading this memoir by carefully studying the cover picture. I concluded the two chubby innocent girls on the front cover were  Martha Graham-Waldon (MGW) to the left and her dearest sister Kathy Graham (KG) to the right. While MGW looked at the camera, KG looked more closely into the gaze of the pet birds they carried. I noticed her shirt lifted up a little and showed her tummy and yet that wasn’t a problem for the photographer. Yet, some of you may agree with me that in some cultures, keeping birds for pets, or not being properly tucked up be you kids, is simply not NORMAL.

This memoir did more to me than just help me see how another family just like mine had, faced and dealt with their member’s mental illness. MGW may not know to what extent her memoir will impact some, but it has definitely completely shattered this paradigm of ‘NORMAL’ to me.

Was NORMAL to be the absence of a diagnosis mindful of some signs that something was seemingly going on with KG? Was it now their new NORMAL that something was indeed going on with KG but then they had to ’embrace’ that as is, or ‘pretend’ to still fit in with ‘conventional community’? What about it being NORMAL to sympathize with their mum who suffered a stroke, and yet shy away and stigmatize the Grahams for having a ‘mad member’ in their family?

I am not going on any further, I read this memoir with so much attention to everything because I couldn’t really believe another family, far away in the USA, could go through such shattering trauma and deal with stigma too! I really thought such things happened only in Africa, to families like mine, well in a setting where people died more from ignorance than from Negligence. I don’t know what to make of the ‘medication tradition or pattern out there’. What is NORMAL now? Go after the symptoms? Go after the illness as diagnosed? Go after the person and beat the Shit out of them?

And in the process of it, how do you a close sibling deal and heal with it all? I applaud MGW’s vivid narration of their various exotic and adventurous family vacations and existence before ‘Life happened’. This in my firm opinion as an aggrieved sibling like herself, states the strong case that the ‘lunatic’ the world now sees, had a ‘NORMAL’ life before their mental illness. I am glad and actually obliged to MGW for writing this memoir mindful of her pain. I rate the book a 5/5 because of the ‘intensity of the different subjects covered’. If I could recommend only 3 books for your year end, this will definitely be one of them. If you read carefully and in between, you’ll definitely re-evaluate that word NORMAL.

About the Author

mgw

Martha Graham-Waldon is a writer, spiritual entrepreneur and armchair activist who resides in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her articles have been published locally, internationally and online. She is a winner of the 2015 Women’s Memoirs contest for a vignette based on her memoir Nothing Like Normal: Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia published by Black Opal Books. A member of the National Association of Memoir Writers, Martha also loves travel, the outdoors, Jazzercise and music.

Questions for an Author: June Whittle author of Deep Within My Soul…


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Hello World, this is the first of what I hope to often do: Profile & Interview and help promote New memoir authors! Why Memoirs? Because that’s the genre I write and it’s still a ‘shy’ genre especially, in my corner of the globe – Africa. My first author to be interviewed and profiled happens to be a dear friend and sister in Christ. I fell in love with the first of her blog posts I stumbled across – yes on the very night I was fumbling around trying to start my own blog! Her post titled «Am I a blogger or a … almost made me give up before I even started; and to think she’d been into blogging a good while? But then, that post ended on a note of so much hope – yes she was – yes I could become one too if I wanted and kept at it with faith.

This is what I have also gathered from reading her maiden but oh so soul searching memoir: shared from deep within her soul and titled just that. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her journey to become this published author today. It ain’t easy I can tell, been there and still go through there, but she will agree it’s worth ever step of the journey…

Note: The post is way longer than my usual posts, I didn’t want to leave any area out and didn’t want to do a P1 & P2… I think whoever reads through the end will love it. 

june-whittle
Deep within her eyes… can we see?

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
  • My name is June Whittle. I was born in Jamaica and relocated to the UK to join my parents when I was a teenager. It was tough leaving my grandmother (who raised me) and my sisters behind. I had to readjust to the climate – it was very cold – and the way of life. The culture in Jamaica was very different to that in the UK. Jamaicans are bubbly, carefree, happy-go-lucky people. I was used to sunshine, loud car horns, a variety of colours, fresh home grown food and other cultural activities. The day I arrived in the UK, it was grey, quiet and everyone looked moody. I was sad.

Anyway, I continued with my education in the UK, started relationships, (some were abusive) worked in various fields and gave birth to my daughters. I became a mature student in 2007 and went to university to complete a PGCE teacher training course to become a teacher. Afterwards, I taught in further education colleges and met some wonderful people along the way. In 2012 God told me to quit my teaching job and write books. I gave up teaching in 2013, stepped out in faith and started a freelance writing career.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
  • Well, I knew I wanted to write about my life, but coming up with a title was hard. Then one day “Deep Within my Soul” popped into my head. I knew straight away it was the right title for my book. You could call it divine inspiration.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. I heard Oprah Winfrey say Love doesn’t hurt; what’s your take on that?
  • Love is a beautiful thing. It’s not meant to hurt, but it does hurt if you end up with the wrong person. I believe it depends on what we mean by love. Although my partners and I thought we loved each other, it was a dysfunctional kind of love because we didn’t love ourselves. Therefore, our love wasn’t whole. It’s hard to give 100% of what you haven’t got. So, instead of the joys of love, I mostly experienced the pains of love.

  1. Did the love in your relationships hurt from the start or something happened down the road?
  • In the beginning, it was absolutely wonderful. When you first meet a man or woman you go through the honeymoon period where everything is beautiful. During that period, they can’t do anything wrong. In other words, you don’t see their faults because you’re on cloud nine and consumed by the love feelings. That’s how it was for me too. But, after a few months (when the honeymoon period wears off) he started to look at other women and became obsessed with them. That’s when he started cheating and our relationship changed. From then on problems crept in.

  1. Can you tell who was to blame and what you felt about all this then?
  • I think he was to blame for the fact that he couldn’t keep himself away from other women. But I also blame myself because I was shy, naïve, insecure and didn’t know how to satisfy him. Looking back now, I see myself as very immature and I didn’t know anything about relationships. However, some people might say that’s no excuse for him to cheat on me. He took it far, and chatted up my friends in front of me. This led to verbal and physical abuse, plus lack of trust and many heartaches.

  1. I read a lot of poems about Love in your memoir, and yet you were going through so much pain! So how did you find it writing about love while living pain?
  • Although I was hurting, the only way for me to find peace in my heart was to write about the love I yearned for. I wrote a lot of poems about my broken heart. Those poems came from deep within my soul. I suppose I was trying to touch their hearts with my words, although I didn’t show them the poems. It’s like I was living in a make-belief world. I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t get it so, I created my own world where I was safe to write what I wanted. Writing poems kept me sane. It was my lifeline as I poured out my painful feelings on the pages in my notepad.

  1. Do you think there is an ideal time frame to wait before moving from one abusive relationship into another relationship we hope not to turn out as sour?
  • It’s extremely important to heal from an abusive relationship before going into another relationship. Otherwise, you will carry the toxic junk with you. The toxic junk is a combination of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and sometimes hate. When you carry those negative things in your heart, sooner or later they will surface and mess up your new relationship.

Imagine buying an old car that hasn’t been serviced or taken care of. It’s got lots of faults but you can’t see them. Eventually, the car will start to give you problems. On the other hand, if you buy a well looked after serviced car, it’s less likely to break down on you. Plus, you will get a smooth drive and it will last you longer than the one that wasn’t maintained properly. Likewise, not servicing your heart, mind and soul after an abusive relationship will have disastrous consequences on a new relationship.

  1. What’s forgiveness got to do with healing?
  • Forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to heal properly if you hold unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is like a chain around your heart. It squeezes it tight and tighter till it drains your emotional and physical energy. As long as it’s living in you, real healing cannot take place. This includes healing of sicknesses as well as your mind.

A friend did a project with some primary school children recently about forgiveness. She gave them a heavy rucksack each, to carry on their backs. Some said they didn’t mind as the rucksacks were quite light. However, after carrying them on their backs for a while, they became heavy and weighted the children down, causing them to feel uncomfortable and unable to walk properly. That’s what unforgiveness does. It drags you down and affects all areas of your life. Nonetheless, when you forgive, you let go of all toxins and your body will feel light and live again. Painful memories may linger, but will no longer be a problem. That’s when you know that healing has taken place.

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
  • No. Although this is my first memoir, I didn’t base it on style, presentation or content of other writers. This is mostly because mine has poems so it’s different to other memoirs I read. I went with my gut feelings when writing. But, formatted it correctly to meet the requirements for uploading to Kindle for the eBook, and Create Space for the paperback. I followed their guidelines.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?
  • No, I’ve never had a writing mentor. I took two creative writing courses, many years ago and a copywriting course in 2012. That helped develop my writing skills, along with reading books about writing.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
  • It was the first chapter where I summarized a little about my story. While writing, old painful memories came back and made me tearful and sad. I also felt negative emotions such as anger, resentment and unforgiveness. I was surprised because I thought I had dealt with those emotions. Clearly, they were still alive in my heart. I wrote about it in chapter 11 – “Finding Hope, my Testimony of Healing”. It’s amazing how we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve done something, when we haven’t.

  1. How did you deal with that?
  • Well, first I talked to God about it and asked Him to take away those feelings. I felt better afterwards. However, I still had more work to do in that area. So, I repented and prayed from my heart to forgive my abusers for deep healing to take place.

  1. Which was your favourite poem and why?
  • It’s False Love. It was one of the hardest poems to write because it was written out of an extremely painful experience. Nevertheless, it was my favourite because that poem started off my writing experiences. From that poem, other poems followed which helped the healing process of writing to release toxic emotions.

  1. I read two real life excerpts in your memoir, was this to add to the veracity of abuse as a phenomenon or to show the resilience of the human spirit?
  • Those real life excerpts were to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. The abuse these two women suffered were extreme, although diverse. The first example was a vicious form of domestic abuse. The second example was of a teenager being raped by her uncle plus other cruel types of abuse. However, both women decided to forgive their abusers for the sake of their mental health, peace in their lives and more.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
  • While writing, I did research about forgiveness and discovered there is a connection between unforgiveness and sickness such as cancer, arthritis, heart problems and other stress related illness. I also learnt that extra healing was taking place for me as I was writing my memoir. By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt free of any excess burdens that may have been clinging to my heart.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
  • It took me nearly one year to write because I kept starting and stopping. I changed my mind a few times because I was nervous about telling my story to the world. But my daughters and close friends encouraged me to do it. Also, because God told me to write it in the first place, I didn’t want to disobey Him. The self-publishing process took me nearly a week. The technical formatting part of it was rather challenging.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
  • Yes, I think if your story can help others from the lessons you learnt, you should share it. Life is full of pitfalls, some good and some good. There are many lessons along the way. However, not everyone learns from their experiences. But those who learn have gold nuggets to share with others in the form of memoirs. If you can help even a handful of people struggling with the issues you came out of, it’s worth writing your stories. Your story can change another person’s life for the better. Another word of advice, make sure you have supportive people around you. It’s important to get as much encouragement as possible to boost your confidence while you write.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
  • I want to give you the information you need to add value to your lives. My blogs and memoir are not just about me. They are to inspire, encourage, educate and motivate you. I love when you contact me by email or leave comments on my blogs advising me what I can do for you in future blog posts. Or, how you take away something positive from my writing. This is always my aim. Feedback is extremely important to me. So, please, always tell me whether I’m providing value or not.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
  • I plan to open up my two blogs, Miraculous Ladies and Arise Single Christian Mummies for guest blogging in 2017. It’s time I share my platforms with other aspiring or professional writers out there. I also intend to hold workshops related to my memoir. I included writing prompts in the last chapter. I want to take it further and hold small groups or one-to-one workshops to help women write away toxic emotions that’s keeping them captive. In addition, “Deep Within my Soul” is book one of a series of inspirational memoirs based on exclusive and beneficial relationship life-lessons.

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

Thank you very much for answering our questions June. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

Dear readers, please feel free to drop any questions/remarks/observations you may have in the comments section, thank you for reading along.